written by Alison Hilton, Marketing Officer
This weekly series of interviews with MERL staff will focus on the day to day work of everyone involved in one way or another with the Our Country Lives project. As the project picks up momentum, more and more of what goes on behind the scenes will be about change, development and forward planning, but in the meantime, work goes on as usual and these posts will shed light on what keeps us all busy!
My first ‘victim’ is Judith Moon, who will be a familiar figure to almost everyone who has visited the Museum since we moved to our new home in 2005. Judith is our Visitor Services assistant who juggles answering the phone, running the shop, taking event bookings, answering email enquiries, and of course – welcoming every visitor through the door!
What are you working on this week?
I am particularly busy with the shop, reviving the displays after being off sick for a while and returning to discover shelves and stock somewhat depleted! There’s lots of ordering to do and programming new stock into the till. It’s a busy time in the run up to some big events, so I’m thinking about where to put new stock – including the cards we’ve had made exclusively for the John Tarlton photography exhibition. It’s all about merchandising and changing things around to keep the look fresh. I’ve just gathered some gifts and cards together for Father’s Day, for example, just to remind people! My head is full of layouts and ideas for where to put the cards to go with Jenny Halstead’s exhibition and the books for the Poetry Festival. I’ve also got to make sure that I’ve got enough stock to sell in my ‘satellite’ shop at the MERL fete. It’s a good job I’ve got some great volunteers who help me out regularly!
What will be your involvement with the Our Country Lives project?
We hope that part of the development plan will include extending the shop into the courtyard at the entrance to the Museum, so I’ve already been able to talk to designers who came to assess the possibilities when we were submitting the Round 1 application to HLF. It will be great to have more space for displays and I’m already thinking about what I would need to improve the shop. The aim is also to create a better entrance area to eliminate some of the bottlenecks that happen during events, and to make it more welcoming for visitors. We’ll be looking at visitor flow and how people will need to use the new space.